As I entered the decade of my 40’s, I found myself completely worn out. I did not have anything inside me to give to others or motivating me toward any action. I wanted to sleep — deep and patiently. I did not have what it takes to “pull myself up by my boot straps,” a saying my mother was always passing along to me. As if to say, you can push through this without consequence.
Something inside me was demanding that I be still. I slept. I read. I listened to enormous hours worth of meditations on my iPhone. Mooji was a favorite of mine. His soothing voice put me to sleep at night in the midst of my bouts of insomnia. I worked only the necessary number of hours. My energy lagged. My family thought it must be depression. I wasn’t sure. I felt alone but knew these symptoms were speaking to me of something deeper than just an experience. I chose to surrender, into the arms of despondency. I waited it out. And the days passed by.
Fight or Flight
I believe this overwhelming exhaustion was due to having lived my life, up to this point, on the run. My prior three decades, I functioned on high alert. Protecting myself from the dangers I felt were lurking around every corner. I relentlessly asked my nervous system to stay in fight or flight. Eventually, blowing my circuits. I refused to stop. The reasons why are mine alone. My unique, individual story, and yet I share this story with the masses, it being a tendency of human beings to avoid fear and danger and to not linger long in discomfort or lack of drive. Instead, we manufacture ways to distract ourselves. Filling our ears with the chatter of iPads, televisions and phones and ignoring the signs our soul is sending us.
In one of my Ayurvedic cookbooks, the author Kate O’Donnell was explaining the Sanskrit word Prajnaparadha. This word translates as “a crime against intelligence.” It speaks to the misuse of our intellect when we take actions that do not reflect our natural intelligence or smarts. Our innate wisdom is replaced by habits, illusions, fears and doubts. Sometimes to a point where the wisdom is no longer recognized. Committing a crime can be harrowing. And most of us choose to never commit crimes against humanity. Yet, we willingly choose to ignore the inner voice of our wisdom. We turn away from our instincts and instead choose actions that harm our souls. We punish ourselves by committing the crimes of distraction, evasion, and egoism.
Over the years I have paid for, signed up for, attended, and listened to multiple “self-help” programs. I don’t judge this. I am a seeker and my natural tendency is to be curious. I tried others’ recipes and gained some wonderful tools, but none of them took root in my heart. I had to find my answers on my own. I needed to learn how to recognize my own wisdom and intelligence. I wanted to respect my instincts and the inner calling of my heart and learn to recognize my Truth, discerning between actions that would harm me or heal me.
Now, I am six months shy of turning 50. I remember all the advice I received through the years —the opinions of others. The care and concern from friends and family. All spurred by good intentions, they ultimately stunted my ability to recognize myself. I heard the advice given. I tried it on, in hopes of easing the suffering. Clarity came to me when I finally stepped into the darkest corner of my existence and didn’t move. I yielded to the truth of the moment I was in. I listened. I hurt when I was hurting. I felt the fear when something scared me. I dove into being alone. I stayed put. I chose to trust something besides my insecurities. Something in me started to soften and I felt courageous and whole.
What I realized through this dark decade was that it was me that knew how to heal myself. I needed to build my own foundation and walk my own path to the light at the end of the tunnel. By creating a relationship with my past, it no longer directs me. I can sit in the arms of turmoil and panic and not run away from it. Tuning in to the quiet voice of my existence has was my way home to my inner knowing. Now, I have some knowledge prior to committing Prajnaparadha. I now step into my silence, wait for my true heart to speak and let my wisdom direct my actions.
This is the path of Yoga. Know thyself and to walk our path with dedication and commitment to Truth. Sit with the silence and listen, with ears wide open, to the inner calling of our Soul. Take actions that do no harm and that are kind. Greet each new moment with a desire to walk the path of Love.
Who Am I? A unique moment in time, waiting to be realized.